- Published on Saturday, 23 June 2012 16:58
- Written by BC & Agencies
EU mediator in the Belgrade-Priština talks Robert Cooper has stated that it has never been agreed that a footnote must be written on Kosovo's nameplate.
Commenting on the regional representation agreement, which envisages an asterisk next to the footnote, Cooper said that "an asterisk can be placed on the nameplate and an explanation as to what it means can be somewhere else".
"This is a ridiculous issue...The point of the footnote is to make it clear that there is no prejudging of the status and this goes where ever the footnote exists. This says that it is not an act of recognition when you sit down at the table with someone with Kosovo's name in front of them," he told Serbian daily news.
When asked why there was a problem with the footnote, Cooper said that "the Serbian side has several times addressed the issue of footnote on nameplates" and that "Kosovo side has never said that it is all right or that it is completely unacceptable".
"It is hard to say that there was an agreement on it. The question was raised and the answer was silence. When we bilaterally opened the issue in Priština, they told us that it was extremely difficult for them to accept the asterisk and that it was unacceptable that there was a footnote on the nameplate," the EU facilitator noted.
When asked whether the problem was the fact that nameplates were not mentioned in the agreement when it comes to the footnote, Cooper said:
"It seems so. Kosovo did not agree to have the entire text on the nameplate".
When asked whether this meant that the regional representation agreement in fact was not reached, he said:
"I think we have an agreement which does not say that the footnote must appear on the plate. Kosovo is not satisfied either but they did not leave the meeting in Belgrade a few days ago, even though the footnote was on the nameplate".
Commenting on the continuation of the Serbia-Kosovo dialogue, Cooper said that it was hard to say what it would look like "before the Serbian government is formed and before we hear all political factors in Belgrade".
"The way President Tomislav Nikolić is interpreting the Constitution, the negotiations will be continued by the government, not by him. Nikolić said that he as a president will have responsibility to monitor the negotiations but that the prime minister will have the primary responsibility," Cooper explained.
When asked whether the "normalization of the relations between Serbia and Kosovo", which is a condition for the continuation of Serbia's EU integration process, meant opening of respective offices in Belgrade and Pristina, the EU official said:
"I would not answer the question that way because there is no paper which says this. This is not a completely new idea but it has not been discussed in the dialogue so far, just like the parallel structures have not been discussed."
When asked whether there were new conditions for the beginning of Serbia's EU accession talks, Cooper said he "does not know which conditions are considered old."
"The European Commission (EC) opinion mentions telecommunications, electricity, cooperation with EULEX and normalization of relations with Kosovo," he pointed out.
According to him, if the dialogue is taken to the political level, he would not be the facilitator anymore and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton will probably assume the role.